Classic American comfort food doesn’t get much better than meatloaf. It’s hearty, packed with flavour and goes perfectly with mashed potatoes. What’s better than that?! Slow Cooker Meatloaf is a brilliant dish to serve up as a warming weeknight family meal or as a table centrepiece at the weekend.
History of Meatloaf
Meatloaf is commonly heard of in the US as a staple family dish, which became the case during WWII as it allowed families to feed more mouths with less precious meat. At the time, the recipe commonly contained beef, pork and liver.
Following the war, the taste was refined, the liver dropped, Betty Crocker produced a recipe, and meatloaf was here to stay!
Ask any American now and you’ll be told that their meatloaf recipe is the best you’ll ever find (very much like my slow cooker joint of beef is the best you’ll ever find). Meatloaf is one of those meals where everyone has their own recipe.
Over our side of the Atlantic it’s not quite as mainstream, but if you enjoy sausages, meatballs and other minced (ground) meat dishes this is a fantastic recipe to try. It’s satisfying to eat, but also makes a great looking dish if you’re cooking to impress.
What makes a great tasting slow cooker meatloaf?
Two things affect how well a meatloaf recipe turns out – seasoning and moisture. Making a great slow cooker meatloaf is a case of infusing the meat with flavour (plenty of herbs and seasoning!) and ensuring it remains soft and juicy throughout cooking.
As a slow cooker cooks low and slow, and the cooking pot is sealed (thereby trapping in moisture and flavour!) – it’s the perfect way to cook meatloaf.
What ingredients do I need?
The great thing about crockpot meatloaf is that you’ll likely to have all of the ingredients already in the cupboard.
Meatloaf is always served with the all-important glaze. It really enhances both the moisture and taste, and it looks great!
How to slow cook Meatloaf
Start by preparing the dry ingredients (herbs, spices, onion, breadcrumbs) and mixing them together with the minced meat, stock, eggs and milk. It’ll look a lot like sausage meat once combined.
Next, you need to shape the mixture into your meatloaf – get stuck in and get your hands dirty! If you have children, this is a fun part to get them to help. Mix up the glaze, and generously cover the meatloaf in it.
The glaze really helps to keep the meatloaf moist, looks great, and adds buckets of flavour!
Follow up by wrapping the glazed meatloaf firmly in the foil and fold to seal both ends. Don’t be tempted to twist the ends, this will prevent the foil ripping.
Next is the top secret Slow Cooker Club trick. With a few more strips of foil create a trivet for the bottom of the pot and place the wrapped meatloaf on top.
This lifts it off of the top of the slow cooker to prevent it drying out, and allows juices to drain.
Now you just need to turn on the slow cooker, and wait!
How to stop a meatloaf drying out?
There are a few tricks that will prevent a dry meatloaf:
- Breadcrumbs are added to the mix, which retain moisture from the wet ingredients.
- Milk mixed with stock adds tonnes of moisture, which is spread and held throughout the meatloaf by the breadcrumbs.
- Lift the meatloaf off of the bottom of the slow cooker pot, either using our method with tinfoil, or by adding a trivet to the bottom of the slow cooker and placing the meatloaf on top.
What should I serve with slow cooker meatloaf?
The traditional way of serving meatloaf is on a bed of creamy mash potato with a pile of freshly steamed veg. Yum!
Alternatively, slow cooker mac and cheese works brilliantly for a super-filling pairing.
More Hearty Slow Cooker Recipes
If you like the look of this meatloaf recipe, try these other hearty and delicious recipes:
How to use leftover meatloaf?
Meatloaf can be kept in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container, ensure it’s reheated thoroughly before serving.
If you fancy something other than meatloaf and mash potatoes:
- Cut into thin slices for a super tasty warm baguette sandwich.
- Slice into chunks and add to a homemade slow cooker pizza!
Slow Cooker Meatloaf
- 500 g (1 lb) beef mince
- 500 g (1 lb) pork mince
- 2 eggs – beaten
- 40 g (⅓ cup) breadcrumbs – 1 slice bread
- 1 onion – grated
- 1 beef stock cube
- 2 garlic cloves – minced
- 50 ml (¼ cup) milk
- 1½ tsp oregano – dried or fresh
- 1½ tsp basil – dried or fresh
- 1½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp mild chilli powder – mild
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper – ground
- 15 g parsley – Flat leaf parsley
- 6 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp garlic granules – finely ground
- 1½ tbsp cider vinegar
- Remove the parsley stems and chop the leaves (this will make around 2 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley), finely grate the raw onion and mince the garlic cloves. This can be done quickly in a mini food processor.
- Add the parsley, onion, breadcrumbs and garlic to a large mixing bowl and combine with the dry herbs, spices (chilli and paprika), salt and pepper. Stir everything through and then add the pork and beef mince. In a separate bowl mix the ingredients for the glaze, and set aside.
- Warm the milk in a jug and crumble in the beef stock cube, stir well until dissolved. Add to the meat and herbs along with the beaten eggs. Mix everything together well – it's easiest (and most fun!) to do this with your hands. The mixture will now be moist and holding together, and will look like sausage meat ready to be shaped into meatloaf.
- Take a piece of foil approx 50 x 30 cm (20 x 12 inches) and place the meatloaf mixture in the centre. Shape the mixture into a loaf with your hands ensuring the length will fit into your slow cooker. Press the edges firmly to compact the loaf and close any cracks in the edges, then cover the top of the meatloaf generously in glaze mixture. Wrap the meatloaf tightly in the sheet of foil, folding the ends (rather than twisting) to ensure they don't rip. Pierce each end with a skewer to allow juices to drain.
- Cut three sheets of aluminium foil the length of your slow cooker, roll them up and place them in the bottom of the cooking pot to form a rack. Alternatively if you have a trivet or small wire rack that'll fit in your slow cooker – use this instead! Place the meatloaf onto the rack and cook on low for 4 hours.
- When the meatloaf is cooked the juices will run clear, and it'll be firm and slightly browned. As an additional check, unwrap the meatloaf at the top and insert a meat thermometer into the centre – it should read at least 75°C (165°F).
- Remove the meatloaf from the pot, unwrap it and brush with the remaining glaze. Allow the meatloaf to rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving with mashed potatoes and freshly cooked vegetables.